Last night I found George Martin, the Civil War soldier for whom Post 227 G.A.R. in Eastport was named, and whose name is stenciled on our Mystery Flag. Here’s what I’ve pieced together so far. [August 5, 2012: I’ve learned a thing or two in the last three years and am adding some updates.]
The farm boy from Sumpter Township, Wayne County, Michigan, was born in 1841. He had at least two brothers, one older and one younger [Update: five brothers actually, four older and one younger], and a sister, Mary. One of the neighbor kids, Daniel W. Blakely [Update: make that Daniel Blakely, no middle initial], grew up to marry George’s sister Mary in 1853. In 1862, the three Martin brothers and their brother-in-law Daniel enlisted in Company G, 24th Michigan Infantry, Detroit and Wayne County. Their unit went on to become part of the Iron Brigade, and saw combat in some of the most deadly battles of the Civil War. At Gettysburg the 24th Michigan Infantry took heavier casualties than any other unit.
Daniel Blakely was not at Gettysburg. He had been mustered out in January, 1863, in ill health, and had returned to the farm in Sumpter Township. His Martin brothers-in-law were there, though, and went on to fight at the siege of Petersburg. The History of the 24th Michigan of the Iron Brigade (p, 267) relates:
After the Petersburg battle a company of thirty-two men from the regiments of the Iron Brigade, under Adjutant E. P. Brooks of the Sixth Wisconsin, was sent out to destroy some bridges at Roanoke on the Danville Railroad. The men were picked, well armed and mounted. On the morning of June 22, they found a Confederate officer at a house, “sick.” They paroled him and rode on. At mid-afternoon the company halted at a farm house, dismounted and stacked arms for supper, without throwing out any guard. Soon after they were surprised by a demand from the paroled officer of the morning to surrender. He had gathered a lot of farmers who with shotguns went in pursuit. Deploying his squad over a hill so that only the heads of their horses and men could be seen, they appeared more numerous than they were. He demanded of the Brooks Company a surrender to his “superior force,” which was complied with. All their horses, accoutrements and arms were taken from them and the whole command made prisoners of war. Five of this company belonged to the Twenty-fourth Michigan: Anthony Long, of A; Samuel W. Foster, of C; Shelden E. Crittenden, of F; George Martin, of G, and Corporal Frederick Bosardis, of L.
George Martin was taken to the infamous prison pen at Andersonville. It is reported that he died there, but I have not yet confirmed that. [Update: Andersonville records show George died on November 15, 1864.] One of his brothers (I believe Charles Martin) was also captured and died at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri [Update: Henry Martin, and he wasn’t captured – died of wounds and exposure in August, 1863]. Daniel and Mary Blakely had much to grieve about as they came north to Antrim County and built new lives.
I still have work to do, but LaMirada Bob and Bonnie his Beloved are on the case with me, and we’ll keep you in the loop.